The 10 Most Fantastic Mountain Bikes in the World
number one has to be where it all started. In the ’70s, the clunkers lay claim to being the very first mountain bikes, raced by Charlie Kelly and the boys in Northern California down the forests of Mount Tam, but really they were just converted road bikes. Joe Breezemade the very first purpose-built mountain bike, the Breezer. In the early ’80s, mountain biking was just beginning to get a bit of a hold and two companies launched the very first mass-produced mountain bikes, Univega and Specialized, both manufactured in Japan. In 1982, Specialized Stumpjumper was available for under a thousand US dollars and sold in large numbers. Fat tires were here to stay.
The Kona Cinder Cone, designed by JoeMurray. They had a radical new geometry, long and low, that gave them very good offroad performance. With the Kona project too-rigid four-cup front, they became known as a design classic. Yeti C-26, a very early carbon fiber bike that used steel and carbon bonded together rather unsuccessfully because it didn’t last very long. As ridden by one of the all-time legends, John Tomac, the suspension fork, Tioga disc drive rear wheel and drop bars certainly made it stand out when he rode it to fourth place at the downhill of the very first MTB world champs in Colorado.
The GT Zaskar. Simple, but one of the best-looking frames ever. Aluminum tubing, the GT’s triple-triangle design, they’re still being made today, ridden by such legends as Hans Rey, MikeKing, and Steve Peat.GT was a massive mountain biking brand in the ’90s after they diversified into mountain biking from BMX and had a legendary race team. Developed with the help of Marzocchiin the mid-’90s when downhillers were embracing the full-suspension technology, they were one of the very first mass-produced downhill bikes, so popular that other brands bought the frame and branded them as their own. Sintesi, Harrow, Kona, Saracen, and diamondback were just a few.
The Mountain Cycle San Andreas. In the’90s, another full-suspension bike coming from California pushed development forward. The San Andreas was revolutionary. Good rear suspension, disc brakes, and inverted force were all new. In the mid-’90s, the GT LTS upped the ante again. Full-suspension was now being embraced, especially for downhill, and they had very plush rear travel. Who can forget the size of the ten-time world annual champion, Nico Vouilloz, tucked in his skin suit beating the world on a trick-looking, polished aluminum bike with red RockShox Judy downhills?
This would later become the STSthermo-plastic version. Arguably the greatest downhill bike ever, the suspension and geometry were brilliant and went on to win many world cup downhill. The design was copied by many other manufacturers, a true sign of a classic bike. Here are Shaun Palmer’s 1996world champ’s stars and stripes bike. The Honda RN01 was shrouded in secrecy. HRC, Honda’s racing and development branch had engineers at every race, and no one was allowed to touch or ride the bikes other than the sponsored riders. The gearbox got rid of the rear mac, and you could shift gear without pedaling, as long as the rear wheel was spinning. Showa suspension rounded off the unattainable machine. It really was a work of art. For more videos from GMBN, you can click up there for our top 10best mountain bikers of all time, or click down there for our pro-bike